We supported each other and we don’t judge each other.
We talked about things we never talked about before.

Ronel (aged 12)
Support Group attendee

Khululeka promotes a supportive bereavement environment in three ways: training programmes on recognising and supporting bereaved children, mentoring those trained to use the information and skills in their workplace, peer support groups for children who have suffered loss.

Our signature training workshop is a 4 day workshop specifically designed for those working in the child sector, including community child care workers, teachers, nurses and social workers.

In summary, the 4 days mirror the content of The KHU KIT and contains some theories and tools designed to help adults reflect on their own grief histories and processes; detailed information regarding each developmental stage and relating concept of death, grief response and appropriate way to provide support; factual information about the most common contexts of premature death in the Western Cape i.e. HIV and AIDS, TB, violence and road accidents, and the importance of and how to convey this in an age appropriate way; advice about how to support bereaved children including the practicalities of running grief and loss support groups; a range of simple physical therapies and techniques that can be used to de-stress and emotionally contain children and adults; specific examples of activities and exercises designed to facilitate particular group and individual processes including e.g. feeling depressed, isolated, angry; and, finally, resources for referral.

We have been training people in the child sector around meeting the needs of bereaved children since 2005. It is clear that there is a real need for on-going mentorship and support as child care workers deal with the day to day manifestations of grief in the context of under-resourced organisations and communities. We believe that the development of confidence, skill and capacity is vital.

The KHU KIT is one way that we aim to provide such continued support.

We are continuously piloting different mentoring models in order to provide organisations with the best possible intervention. To date we have piloted the following three models:

  1. Onsite mentoring visits consisting of an experienced Khululeka mentor visiting an organisation where facilitators have been running grief and loss support groups for children and providing these facilitators with a two hour mini workshop, exploring the different tools they have been using or could use and providing hands-on input in the context of specific difficulties experienced. The mentor also meets with the supervisor to explore how facilitators can be better supported in order to provide children with the most comprehensive care.
  2. An in-depth onsite mentorship programme which consists of an experienced trainer and grief and loss facilitator mentoring two facilitators throughout a 10 week cycle of a grief and loss support group for children. The mentor is deeply involved in the planning, running and debriefing of this support group for a set cycle, holding a safe space for both children and facilitators to give the latter the chance to practise and develop their own abilities and awareness.
  3. Peer learning sessions, where practitioners who do similar work are given the opportunity to learn from each other.
One of the ways that we ensure that the training we provide stays relevant is by having our trainers run their own on-going grief and loss Support Groups at various schools.

Khululeka Support Groups are facilitated in a 10 week cycle, within a school quarter. Children meet once a week for an hour, usually just after school. Support Groups consist of 10 children of a similar age group, all of whom had lost one or both parents. We work closely with the teachers and principals in identifying the specific children.

The school ensures that the caregivers of the identified children have signed permission slips, giving them permission to attend the Support Groups and pledging their commitment to ensure the children attend all sessions. The support group is closed, meaning that it is the same 10 children from beginning to end, which supports the development of peer trust and confidentiality.

The object of the Support Groups is to build resilience, and helping children to deal with their grief and find and recognise peer support mechanisms.